For all practical purposes, 2011 was the year without a Christmas.  I didn’t put up any decorations, I didn’t send cards, I didn’t listen to Christmas music, and I didn’t watch my favorite holiday movies.  I wasn’t anti-Christmas – it’s more that I lacked interest.  In spite of the absence of holiday enthusiasm I spent the last couple of months working on Christmas knitting. (Since I haven’t mailed out all the packages yet I feel compelled to post only about the gifts that have been received so I don’t spoil any surprises.)

My primary concern was to find suitable gifts for the nice and nephews because I know that kids aren’t fond of receiving IOUs under the tree.  They love technology (as do I) but I can’t compete on the level of giving Nintendo 3DS and iPod Touch and Nikon cameras, so I try to focus on finding unique and/or handmade gifts. I decided to make box bags with fabric I purchased from Spoonflower (for more geeky fabrics, check out Studio Fibonacci‘s offerings) and added a hand-knit item to each bag.  I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the positive response I received from my niece, nephews, and sister-in-law regarding the handmade gifts.  They all loved their box bags – and nephew #1 immediately filled his with all the technology gear he received from Santa.

For the boys, I made storm trooper hats – with a band of color that coordinated with their bags to help identify the owner of each hat.  After a frustrating few weeks of employing the Goldilocks Method of knitting  (i.e. first hat was too tight, second hat was ginormous), I finally hit the right tension for the stranded motif and successfully made two hats that fit.   I have to admit that when they opened their gifts and tried on the hats, I exclaimed “Yes!  They fit!” — an outburst that must have delighted nephew #2 as he kept reciting my quote to me the rest of the day (although I was disappointed that he didn’t re-enact the accompanying fist-pump).  What surprised me most is that my brother offered to take the hat that was too big for the kids – and it fit him perfectly.

For my niece, who asked me back in October to make her something for Christmas, I made a black bag with bright polka dots and included a Just Enough Ruffles scarf in purple with flecks of bright colors and a sweet crocheted lamb that I made from a Planet June pattern.  She wore the scarf for the next few days so I’m assuming she liked it.  My sis-in-law kept commenting on how much she liked that scarf, so I think I’ll make her one for her upcoming birthday.

Finally, I knew that nephew #1 wanted a scarf of his own and my original plan was to wrap one up with the hat.  Alas, the hats took so long (since I had to make 4 of them) that I ended up wrapping everything else and working on the scarf before and during Christmas.  I managed to finish it on the evening of the 25th and gave it to him the next day.  He was delighted to receive a scarf of his very own with plenty of orange – his favorite color – and wore it around the house for the next two days.

Christmas 2011 isn’t quite complete as I have a few finishing touches to put on some projects that need to be mailed out.  I’ve alerted my friends that Epiphany gifts are all the rage this year – and do hope to get them boxed and mailed this week.  I’m looking forward to sending out my first round of hand-knit items and hope that they will be appreciated — I love the process of choosing materials and patterns to suit an individual.

Guess I’m off to gather boxes, labels, and postage.  Perhaps I can get most everything in the mail by Friday morning <fingers crossed>.  Then I can start planning for Christmas 2012!